*Price displayed in US Dollars unless otherwise noted; excursions priced in other currencies may be available on select voyages only. Prices are based on the amount Princess typically charges for each excursion, but your price may vary by voyage date and departure time.
A scenic 25-minute drive in your motorcoach takes you across the Galata Bridge into the heart of Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey and the capital of the Ottoman Empire.
Your first destination is the Blue Mosque, also known as The Sultan Ahmed Mosque. This 17th-century marvel was built to rival and surpass the grandeur and beauty of nearby Hagia Sophia, and is a true study in color. It displays a multitude of domes and semi-domes and graceful minarets on the exterior, and over 20,000 shimmering blue Iznik tiles in more than 50 different tulip designs, and 216 stained glass windows, on the interior.
After a short walk, you'll enter the awe-inspiring Topkapi Palace Museum, a huge walled complex that hugs the Bosphorus. This former palace of Ottoman sultans is now a museum displaying an extraordinary collection of art, artifacts, and jewels, including the famed Topkapi Diamond. The windows promise breathtaking views of the Bosphorus, the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara.
Just inside the palace, the harem offers a revealing look into how the sultans of the Ottoman Empire lived. These private apartments were carefully situated so as not to be seen from the state apartments or courtyards where public affairs were conducted.
A delightful lunch, featuring Turkish specialities and beverages, will be served in a wonderful location surrounded by original Byzantine walls in the old city.
Your tour continues to the Grand Bazaar. This impressive covered market - the largest in the world with over 4.000 shops. You'll view a carpet demonstration and explore the shops filled with jewelry, carpets, leather ware, and copper goods. Bargaining is expected and half the fun.
Within minutes, you'll arrive at Hagia Sophia, also known as St. Sophia, the Church of Holy Wisdom. It was originally built by Constantine the Great, and later rebuilt by Emperor Justinian to be a "queen church" of the new empire. Considered one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture, it's rich with mosaics and marble pillars and coverings.
Your tour concludes with a walk back to your motorcoach, and a relaxing drive back to the port. With Istanbul behind you, you leave with a myriad of unforgettable memories of a lifetime.